Advance Your Career

Young businesswoman thoughtful

How To Advance Your Career In A Crappy Entry-Level Job

Yes, you can still bring yourself one step closer to snagging that dream job even when you’re in an unrelated job.

In the ideal world, post-collegiate life comes with a job offer related to your major. In that perfect entry-level job, you are given the guidance to move up in the company and advance your career.Of course, this scenario is, well, unrealistic. No matter how hard you work in college, landing a job in your desired industry post-graduation is not guaranteed. And it’s not always because you lack the skills and experience either, sometimes there’s too many candidates for too few entry level jobs, or companies you want to work for just don’t have the budget to hire and train someone new right now.Whatever the reason–sometimes you just have to take a job that’s not exactly what you set out to do. But is it possible to still advance in your career when you’re stuck (for now) in a crappy entry-level job? I asked career professionals who’d gone through career changes themselves–here’s what they said:1. TREAT YOUR JOB LIKE IT’S YOUR DREAM JOB
So cold-calling prospective clients and entering data on a spreadsheet is really not what you want to be doing out of college. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to bring the same level of energy and enthusiasm to this role that you would if it were your dream job.

Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at recruitment software Jobvite, says that this is one of the most important mind-sets to have when you’re starting any job. “Part of it is that, even if you know that you don’t have your dream job, you’ve accepted it. Go into it as if it’s your dream job. People can tell if you want to be there. You never know what you’re going to learn.”

Bitte herself started out working as a receptionist in a consulting firm before working in HR after spending four years studying international relations. But a coveted internship at the United Nations showed her that the nonprofit world wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and she decided she would be better off working in private corporations. Her receptionist role led to an office manager gig for a PR firm, where she was involved in company admin, as well as HR and finance. She ended up tackling more and more HR projects, began taking night classes taught by professionals in the industry and eventually landed a recruiting job at Apple through her instructor.

Part of bringing your full passionate self to work is to look for opportunities where you can take charge and be of value. Bitte says that the beauty of having an entry-level job that’s not in your desired field is that you’ve got nothing to lose. “You can take a risk. Look for projects that are really meaty that some people might shy away from.”Daniel Ospina, an organizational design specialist who started his career as a chef, echoed this sentiment. “Instead of focusing on the industry or the job title, focus on the problem that you want to solve and look for insights from a variety of sources. Most problems these days are best approached with a multidisciplinary perspective. Coming at them from a different angle can be quite valuable in the market.”Everyone likes a self-starter. Many skills, like communication and project-management, are also relevant to almost every industry. Having a few successful projects under your belt can only benefit you when you go for your next interview, particularly if there is a way of quantifying your success.

You’ve probably heard this advice many times before, and we know, it’s extremely tempting to give this the old eye-roll. But this is a crucial thing to do when you want to remain on the lookout for new opportunities.“I think networking is absolutely critical.” Bitte says. “You just never know who’s connected to what in your network.” You might find, for example, that the account coordinator you had lunch with yesterday knows a recruiter at a company you’re dying to work at. Or that the CEO’s assistant is related to the project manager of the contract position that just opened up–which you’re considering putting in an application for.Or they might just have connections to people who work in the industry you want to get into, and that’s valuable in itself. Rebecca Zucker, a partner in leadership development consultancy Next Step Partners, previously told Fast Company that this is a great way to find out exactly what you can do to bring yourself closer to where you want to be. You might think you know what skills you need for that wish-list job, but it’s much smarter to go and ask someone who’s currently there.

Just because you’re not working in your desired industry doesn’t mean you can’t develop your expertise in it. Ospina suggests trying to gain experience while you’re still in the job (that way, you can still pay your bills while you make yourself a more attractive candidate for your dream job). “These exploratory projects can be organizing a community of interest, hosting themed dinners, creating small conferences, or interviewing people in the industry for a podcast or blog. By providing value to others (for example, through exposure or simply a nice meal) you can grow your network. Over time, that which you have given others will serve you the most.”

From a recruiter’s perspective, Bitte says that the key to turning an irrelevant experience into a relevant one is to have a good story. Take the example of someone who someone who landed a PR role but would really prefer a journalism job. They might want to articulate their passion and commitment to journalism but frame their experience from a learning angle; i.e. they had the opportunity to learn how things work from that side of the media. They might then want to think about how the lessons they learned through their PR job make them a better journalist. Perhaps it reaffirmed their commitment to the profession, or it gave them some fresh perspectives they never would have gotten otherwise.Lihi Gerstner, an architect turned entrepreneur who cofounded space-renting and listing platform Splacer reminds graduates that the start of their career is the perfect time for experimentation. In other words, getting a job in an unrelated field doesn’t make you doomed to adulthood failure.“Every job should open new doors and possibilities. It’s important to be open to experiences and not be afraid to get your hands dirty–you are young, this is the time to learn and to experience new things. You’ll always have time to decide what you want to be ‘when you grow up.’
An article by Anisa Purbasari Horton posted on

Related Blogs

  • Oct 19, 2018
    Find Career Clarity!

    How To Find Career Clarity Using Three Top Career Theories Feeling like you need to make a career pivot because your job isn’t a good..

    0 Read More
  • Oct 12, 2018
    Integrators VS Segmentors

    Are your employees integrators or segmentors? An organization has both integrators and segmentors. Being a segmentor is a tough ask. If you choose to be..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 21, 2018
    What Motivates You to…

    What Motivates You to Work? That paycheck will never be big enough if it's the only reason you're going to work. Each of us respond..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 14, 2018
    Update Your Resume

    Updating Your Résumé Might Mean Updating Yourself It seems like a total no-brainer: you should update your résumé and online profiles when you are job..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 7, 2018
    Tap Into Your Motivation!

    Putting Yourself In Drive: How To Tap Into Your Motivation The one common component in every great success story is motivation: an ever-elusive elixir that..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 31, 2018
    Enhancing your job search

    How To Bounce Back When The Job Search Gets You Down With a dream job in mind, an updated résumé in hand and responses to..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 17, 2018
    Social media can cost…

    When 'What Happens In Vegas' Ends Up In Your Job Search   What happens in Vegas really doesn’t stay there. That “funny” picture about that..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 3, 2018
    Emotional Intelligence at Workplace

    How To Develop More Emotionally Intelligent Employees In the quest to develop leaders who will foster a culture of equity and inclusion in the workplace,..

    0 Read More
  • Jul 27, 2018
    Are you ready to…

    The Difference Between People Who Succeed and People Who Flop Successful people charge forward, take calculated risks, and come out on top because of it...

    0 Read More
  • Jul 6, 2018
    Hiring the right people?

    5 Steps to Hiring the Right People for Your Business "Hire slow, fire fast" is great advice, but it's not always easy to follow. The..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 29, 2018
    Ready for Entrepreneurial Success?

    4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You for Entrepreneurial Success Success is a journey, not a destination, so think hard about where to start. Entrepreneurship..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 22, 2018
    Simple Work-Life Balance

    Work-Life Balance Is Simple. To Succeed at Work, Get a Life. With the right balance of health and business, entrepreneurs can maximize productivity. The Organization..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 8, 2018
    Back On Track

    How to get back on track when you’re having an unproductive day A rocky start shouldn’t dictate your entire workday. Do these things to reverse..

    0 Read More
  • May 4, 2018
    Strategic Workforce Tools

    Your Workforce Tools Are More Strategic Than You Might Think This is not a typical article about attracting talented job candidates or retention — while..

    0 Read More
  • Apr 20, 2018
    Engagement Strategy

    Don’t Let ‘Meaning’ Be Missing From Your Engagement Strategy Meaning is one of the five keys in building employee engagement and it may be the..

    0 Read More
  • Apr 5, 2018
    Inclusion in the Workplace

    Inclusion Doesn’t Mean Including Everything and Everyone Inclusiveness is not about thought policing. It’s also not about turning everyone into a liberal. It’s a normal..

    0 Read More
  • Mar 30, 2018
    Inspire Change In Your…

    4 Ways To Inspire Change In Your Employees Have you ever listened to a speech that inspired you so much, you were ready to make..

    0 Read More
  • Mar 23, 2018
    Employees Feel and Act…

    7 Ways to Incent Employees to Feel and Act as Owners Building accountability into your business culture is a leadership process. It can't be driven..

    0 Read More
  • Mar 16, 2018
    Don’t Shuffle People Into…

    Don't Shuffle People Into the Wrong Job Just Because They're Already on the Payroll You grow your company by putting proven performers where you need..

    0 Read More
  • Feb 26, 2018
    Minimise Workplace Negativity

    Tips for Minimizing Workplace Negativity To Deal with Negativity in the Workplace, Use These 9 Tips Nothing affects employee morale more insidiously than persistent workplace..

    0 Read More
  • Feb 23, 2018
    Leadership Role but Unprepared…

    You Were Promoted To A Leadership Role But You Feel Unprepared - Don't Panic You’ve been at the job for years. As much as you..

    0 Read More
  • Feb 16, 2018
    Fail at Switching Jobs?

    This Is the No. 1 Reason Why People Fail at Switching Jobs (and What to Do About It) There's a reason changing careers is so..

    1 Read More
  • Feb 2, 2018
    A Technique To Get…

    Didn't Get Your Dream Job? This 1 Technique Could Get You a Second Chance Every job seeker experiences this at least once, if not several..

    0 Read More
  • Jan 26, 2018
    Prepare new employees for…

    The Best Way to Set New Employees Up for Success Create an onboarding program that's both meaningful and memorable Congratulations; you've just hired a terrific..

    0 Read More
  • Jan 19, 2018
    First Hour, Day, Week,…

    Do This In Your First Hour, Day, Week, And Month Of Your New Job Getting settled into your new job is the ultimate act of..

    0 Read More
  • Jan 12, 2018
    Make 2018 a Productive…

    11 Expert Tips To Make 2018 Your Most Productive Year Ever Could eating cake for breakfast and never listening to your voicemail help you get..

    0 Read More
  • Jan 5, 2018
    7 Ways Modest Leadership…

    7 Ways Modest Leadership Increases Team Success When we imagine the traits of successful leaders, whether they are managers, high level executives, CEO's or owners..

    0 Read More
  • Dec 22, 2017
    Career Goals for 2018

    How to Set Your Career Goals for 2018 and Achieve Them Each New Year offers the opportunity for a fresh start—and that includes your career...

    0 Read More
  • Dec 15, 2017
    Employee stress during Christmas

    Managing employee stress during the festive period More than half of employees feel stressed in the weeks leading up to Christmas, with most calling for..

    0 Read More
  • Dec 1, 2017
    Appreciating your employees

    How to Avoid the No. 1 Reason People Leave Their Jobs William James, the father of psychology, stated that the most fundamental psychological need is..

    0 Read More
  • Nov 24, 2017
    HR Function in 2024

    Will You Be Leading an HR Function in 2024? Here are five things to look at to examine and determine if you’ve got what it..

    0 Read More
  • Nov 10, 2017
    Your Impact at Work!

    What Is Your Impact? We keep throwing this word around called "impact." Do you know what your impact is and how would you define, discover,..

    0 Read More
  • Oct 27, 2017
    Inspiring Career Advice

    LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner's 3 Best Pieces of Career Advice Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn's CEO, has had nothing short of a successful career. After graduating from..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 15, 2017
    Lost your Job?

    Nine Things You Should and Shouldn't Do If You Lose Your Job Most of us wouldn’t think to associate the words "joblessness" and "fun," but..

    0 Read More
  • Sep 8, 2017
    Why Risk Is A…

    Why Risk Is A Necessary Component To A Successful Career - And How To Balance Risk With Reward Taking at least some risk is necessary..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 16, 2017
    Write your first CV

    It's all about potential: how to write a CV with no work experience Follow these tips to stand out among competing candidates – from research..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 10, 2017
    Friends and Career

    Being Too Busy for Friends Won’t Help Your Career Friendship matters. Everything we do to succeed in our careers is improved when we’re supported by..

    0 Read More
  • Aug 4, 2017
    Is it time to…

    The Best Ways to Reward Employees. Having an effective reward program in place can help solve many of your HR issues. Every company needs a..

    0 Read More
  • Jul 28, 2017
    Burnout: exhausted or lonely?

    Burnout at Work Isn’t Just About Exhaustion. It’s Also About Loneliness More and more people are feeling tired and lonely at work. In analyzing the..

    0 Read More
  • Jul 21, 2017
    People don’t take HR…

    People Don’t Take HR Seriously; Here’s Why That’s Dangerous Legacy beliefs like being the bad guy and a lack of strategic vision isolates HR, and..

    1 Read More
  • Jun 30, 2017
    Career Development

    Think Strategically About Your Career Development In a world where the average employee sends and receives 122 emails per day and attends an average of..

    0 Read More
  • Jun 16, 2017
    Diversity and Inclusion

    Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion Leaders have long recognized that a diverse workforce of women, people of color, and LGBT individuals confers a competitive edge..

    0 Read More
  • May 8, 2017
    Interview Preparation

    Interviews are generally regarded as the primary decision-making event in any recruitment process. Regardless of your academic credentials or career thus far, it is crucial..

    0 Read More
  • May 2, 2017
    Employee Burnout

    What causes burnout and how it can affect both the employees and the organisation How HR Can Help Prevent Employee Burnout An engaged workforce. It's..

    0 Read More
  • Apr 3, 2017
    Interview questions you have…

    Studies have shown that structured interviewing is more than twice as reliable a predictor of future employee performance than unstructured interviewing. That is why most..

    0 Read More
  • Mar 19, 2012
    Job Search Tips That…

    Cyprus unemployment has been steadily increasing monthly since 2008 and is getting closer to double digits (January 2012 Eurostat figure – 9.6%). However there are..

    0 Read More